Review: California Summer by Anita Hughes

I love a good starting-over story. In California Summer, Rosie doesn’t have much of a choice. Her Hollywood life fell apart and she ended up in Montecito – uncertain of her future. But, a mother figure/ butler friend/ bff/ neighborhood guy later, and Rosie’s on her way back up. Question is, does she want to go back to the fast lane, or does she want to settle in to Montecito life with the ones she loves?

I loved every fish taco, every Estelle dinner party, and every rose garden chat. Anita Hughes rocked the luxuriousness, as usual, and threw in some pop stars and surfers for good measure. The plot twist was perfect – completely believable and not overdone – and endeared me to Rosie’s boyfriend even more.

The only shortcomings of this novel were that Rosie had two very annoying habits: 1- wearing the same red, full length cocktail dress randomly and to every gathering under the sun, whether it was appropriate or not, and 2- Rosie ran and hid like a toddler from any uncomfortable situation. I just wanted her to get a new dress and grow a set!

Apart from those two things, I liked all the characters, even spoiled Angelica and Hollywood agent Ryan. Hughes did a great job rounding out character development and writing someone for every reader to identify with. My favorite parts were meeting Esmerelda through Rosie’s eyes, and watching Rosie finally grow up.

-calliope

Buy CALIFORNIA SUMMER

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Miranda inherits a bookshop – and a whole slew of secrets. Fun and clever, The Bookshop contains many allusions to Shakespeare, a literary mystery, and a box of family treasures.

Problem was, I solved the mystery in the first couple chapters, and the Shakespearean quotes bogged me down after a while. I think a little more work ensuring the book flowed effortlessly (for the reader!) would have helped. Even though I really liked Miranda and the other bookshop staff, and I thought that Meyerson did a good job developing the friendships, the family relationships and the mystery itself all seemed a little contrived. All’s well that ends well, though, right?

(get it?)

-calliope

Buy BOOKSHOP OF YESTERDAYS

Review: The Mum Who’d Had Enough by Fiona Gibson

Cute premise but really more of a story about two people struggling in their marriage. I don’t want to say too much, but the mum was fine with motherhood, she just wanted more responsibility to be shared by her hubby. Loved the teenager in the story – Gibson must have a teen of her own because she wrote terrific teen dialogue – natural and smooth.

The other characters were fine but maybe not as developed as they could have been – which would’ve been fine if I wasn’t searching for a good reason why the husband and wife weren’t getting along!

Gibson provided some good laughs and poignant moments in this quick read. However, I settled for an “okay for now” instead of a happily ever after. The story was perhaps a little too realistic for this fluff-romance addict, and may be better suited for a reader who is going through their own difficult relationship.

– calliope

Buy THE MUM WHO’D HAD ENOUGH

Review: Liar, Liar by Lisa Jackson

I’ve loved Lisa Jackson for a very long time. She writes one heck of a whodunnit. Her latest offering is no exception.

It’s been 20 years since Remmi last saw her mother. An explosion in the desert, a shooting, missing children, and then Didi Storm was gone. Nobody knew what happened to her, even her teenage daughter. A minor celebrity in her day, Didi slowly slipped off the radar. Interest is renewed, however, when a mysterious author writes a tell-all book about Didi’s life. And then there’s the jumper, a woman clearly trying to look like Didi leaping to her death. Or was she pushed? Oh and let’s not forget Remmi’s infant sister and brother, both missing since the night of Didi’s disappearance. And last but not least, Noah, an almost love interest who coincidentally also went missing that night.

Seems like a lot going on, I know. But trust me, it goes together. And everything fits, slowing coming together to complete the puzzle. A nice little mystery with a great storyline and interesting characters.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Liar, Liar

Review: Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

I adore fairy tale retellings and Kiss of the Spindle fit the bill. This had everything that made me happy. Witches, shifters, curses and swoony men. Can’t go wrong with that.

Isla Cooper has been put under a spell and she must do everything in her power to find the witch that cast it, even if it means blackmailing her way onto an airship. She basically sleeps like the dead every night. She’s running out of time. Soon the curse will be permanent. Her calling as a shifter empath has put her in the sights of a few who would like her to fail in her endeavor. So she must call upon her fellow airship occupants to help her, even though she’s used to doing things alone.

Captain Daniel Pickett was mot amused into being blackmailed. He’s a mission and he doesn’t have time to be messed around with. He has no idea what’s in store for him. Just when he’s content with his life, Isla brings a spark into it and draws him into her. He falls hard. But when he find out what’s happening to her each night, he does everything in his power to help her.

I love the slow burn of this romance. It kept me turning the pages. I was so excited to see where this was headed. I’m glad we got to see Daniel’s story. We met him in the previous story, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. But this is a standalone, so don’t worry about missing anything.

I’m still fairly new to the world of steampunk. I’ve read less than a handful of them. But I gotta admit, they intrigue me. They’re like historical, and yet not. Kiss was no exception. I just have to reset my mind and jump into a world of gadgets and gizmos. I hope we get more in this series.

~Melpomene
Buy Kiss of the Spindle https://amzn.to/2tt4mUW

Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf


Boy, I wish I knew this was gonna be a trilogy before I started. Towards the end I was getting nervous and then BAM. So now I sit here waiting……

I went in blind so I really didn’t have any idea what it was about. To be honest, in the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish. Her inner voice kept reminding us about the same thing over and over and over again. It was getting rather annoying. But I stuck with it and ended up hooked.

Zera was torn between doing what she needed to do and what she wanted to do. She’s on a mission that, if it was just about her, her decisions would’ve been easier to make. But since it’s not only about her, she has to come to terms with what she really is and why she’s really here.

Personally I liked the prince’s bodyguard more than anyone. He was quick witted and duty bound to the prince. He was always there to say what others were thinking, even if he should keep it to himself. Without him, I probably would’ve quit the book early on.

I liked the premise of the story. I really did, even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen. The ending, while exciting, wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew it. I know this all sounds negative, but I think teens will like it. It was a sweet romance with very exciting undertones. I look forward the next one.

~Melpomene

Buy Bring me Their Hearts https://amzn.to/2KrBfgl

Review: Gracie’s Secret by Jill Childs

Confession: At about the halfway point in the book, my brain was already writing the review and giving it three stars. For me, that’s a decent story. Good enough to finish, not particularly memorable, and probably not blog-worthy. But luckily I rarely review books at the midpoint because this is one that definitely moved up in the ranks by the end.

The story starts out in dramatic fashion. Little Gracie’s been seriously injured in a car accident. As Jen takes her place by her daughter’s bedside, she finds herself hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Gracie is her entire world, especially after her separation from Gracie’s dad. But Gracie does recover. And she has quite a story to tell. Thankful to have her daughter back, Jen loses herself in caring for her. When Matt comes into her life, she thinks her luck in life just may be changing. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if things were wrapped up all nice and neat and tidy.

I was a bit thrown off by the tone of this story. For most of it, Jen’s talking to Gracie, narrating what happened right before and after the accident. It works in some places but is annoying in others. So maybe that’s why my initial impressions weren’t as favorable. But it redeems itself as the story hits a few twists and turns and then ends with a bang. Definitely worth reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Gracie’s Secret